Friday, September 19, 2008

How the Palin Phenomenon Hurts the GOP

You know, I have a tendency to follow certain archetypical conservative blogs. Part of my reasoning for doing so is that one needs to know the opposition well in order to compete with it. Another reason is that I actually enjoy the back and forth debating that I get from it. And truth be told, conservatives, for the most part, are decent people when it gets down to it. Sometimes they can be obnoxious, but then there are many folks on the left who can be equally as obnoxious, too. But still and all, I've not had bad experiences engaging folks in the conservative blogosphere. But that's not what I want to write about ... What I want to say is that my frequenting of conservative blogs, like Right Wing News, Hot Air, and Michelle Malkin, for example, has given me some insight into conservative political narratives. One of the most recent narratives is the supposedly positive impact that Sarah Palin's addition to the GOP presidential ticket has had on the conservative base. And, certainly, Sarah Palin has enthused and energized the conservative base. But ... and here's the kicker ... it has also consumed the conservative base, and particularly the conservative blogosphere, such that all they can think of is Sarah Palin. I guess in part it's also because these folks don't really like John McCain, and would rather ignore or forget him; but they do so at their own peril. And I'd like to suggest that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin has had the effect of neutralizing and removing the conservative attack machine from effectively challenging the Obama/Biden ticket.

Let me give you an example of what I mean by way of a short, quick test.

What do you think is the outrage du jour among the conservative punditocracy and blogosphere? Is it Obama's dipping into some questionable negative advertising?

You'd think this might be the rightwing punditocracy and blogosphere's focus these days, but then you'd be wrong. No, these folks would much rather make hay and spill endless inkbytes over ... someone hacking into Sarah Palin's Yahoo email accounts. Yeah. I know. An email hacker story? Good grief!

When you go around the conservative blogospher and online media outlets and follow how this story has led to a frenzy of energy and outrage, and when you realize how this is nothing but one big intra-ideological circle jerk over a subject that has arguably absolutely nothing to do with the presidential election, you begin to see how this choice of Sarah Palin has sidetracked and, perhaps, destroyed the GOP and the McCain campaign's grass roots attack machine from any kind of efficacy in conditioning public opinion about the election.

Frankly, I couldn't be happier. And I think this kinda vindicates the strategy by the left liberal blogosphere to go after Palin hard and relentlessly. Doing so has caused the conservative wagons to circle around Palin, whose glow has already faded among those paying attention to the narrative of her continued lying about troopergate, the bridge to nowhere, her pork-busting credentials, her knowledge of the energy industry, not to mention her stunning ignorance about foreign affairs and US foreign policy.

And all the while the conservative punditocracy and blogosphere gets aflutter about email hacking, John McCain's gaffes and mistakes and misdirections and gutter politics get pounded by the Obama campaign's very strong and consistent messages: "McCain, more of the same" and "McCain, Washington and Wall Street Insider."

Now don't get me wrong ... I think hacking Sarah Palin's emails is wrong and lamentable; but, really, that isn't what's going to capture the interests of the average voter. As the U.S. financial sector collapses, as credit markets contract, and as unemployment grows, people aren't going to care one whit about whether some young punk kid, who might or might not be the son of some Tennessee Democratic State Rep., who might or might not be friend of a friend of a friend to someone working in the Obama campaign, managed to hack the Yahoo email account of Sarah Palin. And, furthermore, what's a state Governor doing piddling around with a free and public-domain Yahoo email account in the first place? Gimme a break! It's just not going to be perceived as all that serious a matter, and it will only confirm the relative unseriousness of Palin as a Vice-Presidential selection.

The GOP base is fiddling while McCain burns. And we've got Sarah Palin to thank for both the fiddling and the burning. How 'bout dem apples?


Schroeder said...

"hacking Sarah Palin's emails is wrong and lamentable," except if she uses a Yahoo account as a way to keep government business hidden from public records requests.

Nice, fresh analysis of the Failin' Palin phenomenon. I hope you're right.

Huck said...

Good point, schroeder. It didn't dawn on me until I started reading some more on it, but apparently Palin and her lawyers had actually designed the use of these Yahoo email accounts for the purposes of skirting public accountability and sunshine laws. And that's even more reprehensible if you ask me. But, still and all, it's just not nice to hack into an email account. The proper way to challenge Palin on what appears to be improper use of these email accounts on her part is to take her to court for it.

Maitri said...

Huck, while I share your disbelief at what the conservative blogosphere is feeding on right now, your perspective and mine on the average voter are different. As someone who moved here at the age of 15 and really values my American citizenship, I feel that voters here like to delude themselves in the face of the eroding national and international situation. "No problems here, we're still at the top of the global heap, move along, drive through!"

If McCain and Palin win, it will be because that percent of voting Americans don't want to come to terms with themselves and what's right.

Huck said...

maitri - Thanks for the comment. I agree with you that there are some head-in-the-sand folks out there who just don't see what's happening or who aren't very self-critical, and whose showing up at the polls in November may make the difference in terms of who gets elected; but I do, by and large, have faith in the American voter to see through the smoke and mirrors and vote for what's right and even to have to confront their self-delusions at some point.